Comparative analysis of the pC194 group of rolling circle plasmids.Plasmid 1993; 30(3):185-96P
pC194-type plasmids have been isolated from widely divergent species of bacteria: Gram positive, Proteobacteria, Spirochaetes and Cyanobacteria. We have examined the three essential replication elements of these plasmids, i.e., the Rep protein, and the origins of double and single stranded synthesis. Comparative analysis of Rep protein sequences from these plasmids indicates that they are highly divergent. Those isolated from Gram positive species fall into five groups: a Bacillus group, a Lactobacillus group, a Streptococcus group and two Staphylococcus aureus groups. The two S. aureus clusters are quite separate, suggesting that there has been at least one plasmid transfer between divergent Gram positive species. The double stranded origin of replication and the active site of the Rep protein display similarities across species indicating that these motifs can function in very divergent hosts. In contrast the single stranded origin of replication is typical of the host from which the plasmid is isolated. This is exemplified by (i) pKYM where the single stranded origins are similar to the minus origins found on the single-stranded coliphages, and (ii) pTD1 (isolated from a Spirochaete), pNostoc, pMA1 and pRF1 (all isolated from Cyanobacteria) which have no sequence homology to the minus origins identified in Gram positive or Gram negative species. This points to the single stranded origin as a feature critical to the determination of the host range of the plasmid.